Men's Shirts in the 1940s

Written by taylor fergus
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Men's Shirts in the 1940s
The 1940s marked the emergence of the Hawaiian shirt. (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Men's fashion during the 1940s is separated into two dramatically different categories. Fashion during World War II was very plain; men who were not away at war did not want to appear luxurious or bring attention to themselves. However, post war fashion became bolder and more colourful.

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Shirts During World War II

During the war, fashion in general reflected the sombre and serious mood of the nation. Most shirts were of simple design made with a single colour--usually black, navy, and other dark colours.

Post-War Shirt Design

After the war, restrictions and rations on clothing materials were lifted, allowing for more fabric, stitching and buttons to be used on all types clothing, including shirts. Shirts were designed to be excessively long and baggy, such as those worn with Zoot suits. Often shirts were made with shirt-tails--two triangles of extra fabric which hung behind the garment. Shirts were produced in a wide array of colours which were not thought proper during wartime.

The Hawaiian Shirt

The late 1940s gave birth to a new style of shirt that had not been common through most of the country. Long and loose button up shirts that were very colourful hit California and Florida after the end of the war. The fabric of the shirts were light and imprinted with floral patterns as well as ocean flora, women, and often flames. Along with the Hawaiian shirts, many other shirts were designed with patterns and images.

New Ties For The New Shirts

The new colourful clothing with printed patterns also appeared on ties. The ties we often see today with colourful patterns and different images on them were not commonplace before the late 1940s. Brightly coloured silk ties to match the shirts were then hand painted with images of skyscrapers, rodeos, exotic plants, sunsets, and even pin up girls and much more.

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